China and U.S. to hold trade talks in Beijing next week

BEIJING (Reuters) – China and the United States will hold vice ministerial level trade talks in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday, with the two countries under pressure to end a trade war that is hurting the world’s two largest economies and roiling global financial markets.

For much of the past year, the trade war has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and stoked fears of a global economic slowdown.

A team led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish will come to China to have “positive and constructive discussions” with Chinese counterparts, China’s commerce ministry said in a statement on its website.

In a separate statement on Friday, USTR said the delegation will also include Under Secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Treasury, as well as senior officials from those agencies and the White House.

Neither statement provided more details about the talks.

Pressure to strike a deal mounted this week after data showed slowing U.S. and Chinese manufacturing activity and as companies like Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] said the trade battle was hitting earnings.

At a summit in Argentina late last year, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to hold off on additional tariffs for 90 days while they attempted to negotiate a deal.

Now China and the United States face a March deadline for talks to end the damaging trade war, or Washington could proceed with a sharp hike in U.S. tariffs and Beijing could retaliate.

Trump has said talks toward a deal are progressing well, but it was unclear if Beijing will yield to key U.S. demands over trade imbalances, market access, and alleged Chinese abuses of intellectual property.

U.S. and Chinese flags are seen before Defense Secretary James Mattis welcomes Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

“Sitting down to meet is progress. China wants the trade war to end, and they are offering signs of that,” said a U.S. source familiar with the discussions.

“Clearly both sides are feeling economic stress, but both have high ambitions. Can either side afford to roll over? No. Can they compromise? We’ll see.”

USTR said the delegation will include USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud, USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, Department of Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Gilbert Kaplan, Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, and Treasury’s Under Secretary for International Affairs David Malpass.

Reporting by Michael Martina and Judy Hua in Beijing and Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Kim Coghill and David Gregorio

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